He shows us the universe through the “Galaxy Words”.

Andreas Kraft
Professor, Berlin University of the Arts

Nowadays, smartphones and IT have permeated society, but I am reminded every day of the importance of physicality. In 2000, I was a part-time lecturer teaching design and programming at the Department of Information Design at Tama Art University in Tokyo. While many students were challenging new possibilities in technology and design, Arai was the only one who stuck to traditional techniques. The faculty, myself included, thought he was missing out on the new possibilities of digital technology.

Today, it is quite the opposite, and his project is “Walking the streets of Tokyo on foot and visualizing the characteristics of each city with symbols and typography”, which is a way of experiencing reality through physical experience. It already showed the importance of rethinking.

The letter collage I used was reminiscent of the 1920s Dada movement in my hometown of Berlin. The letters were a collage of giant black letters and images, redefining the reality in which I was placed. Whether this was a work of intuition, at that time he had already achieved expressions equivalent to those of Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns.

Even now, Arai uses symbols similar to hieroglyphs and typography of ancient characters to examine the current global environment and visualize the layers of meaning that shift to a new era. When he was a student, he only drew symbols carefully on small pieces of paper, but now he creates works on large canvases with bold brushstrokes. Knowing my passion for dance, He could see that the handwriting was not only symbolic of the elements of the image, but also of the movement of how it was painted.

The images are reminiscent of Keith Haring’s drawings, but Arai’s are more metaphysical than pop art. He sees culture from the industrial revolution and even digital as ‘natural’, a way of looking at the world in which consciousness is expanding. Arai’s work is a symbol, through which we can see the times ahead as we travel into space.

Present connects the past to the future.

Akihiro Kubota

Professor, Tama Art University

When I first encountered Arai Fuzuki’s “Galaxy Words,” it reminded me of an ancient set of signs discovered by paleoanthropologist Genevieve von Petzinger. Petzinger focused on graffiti-like “signs,” rather than famous animal drawings, left behind in Ice Age caves 10,000 to 40,000 years ago. She then created a database of geometric signs by collecting more than 5,000 drawings left at 52 archaeological sites and 368 caves. Moreover, she discovered that these signs can be converged into only 32 types of signs.

These signs that mark transitions from gesture or spoken to written language, or from image to language, appear the same in geographically distant places, albeit with some time span. How is it possible that people long ago, without remote communication technologies such as wireless or the Internet, could have such nonlocal simultaneity and continuity, as in modern particle and quantum theory?

Whether art, science, engineering, philosophy, or the humanities, they are all rooted in the environmental and physical, rooted in the state of the earth over the last tens or millions of years and in the basic structure of the human body as shaped by evolution. Even mathematics, the axiomatic system underlying its system, like other everyday languages, emerged from the cognitive activities of us humans, based on embodied experience.

Human sensation, thought, and communication are connected through the human body, including the brain. Linguist George Lakoff and philosopher Mark Johnson have named the abstract and general cognitive schemas extracted from such everyday experiences “image schemas”. Both the geometric signs of Ice Age Europe and the galaxy words of Arai show a deep connection to this image schema. It is the foundation of human communication that shapes society, the foundation of human thought that expands through metaphor, and the foundation of art, the expression of humans, by humans, for humans.

When I look at Arai’s paintings, I see not only the things depicted in them themselves, but also the world or universe to which they may belong, which seems to diverge from them like branches and leaves, or to go back in time. The galaxy words lead to the prehistoric common symbol as the origin of writing. Creating the future and imagining the past are indistinguishable. The past and the future are connected by the present.

Rather than something special, “it” reveals what is overlooked because it is so obvious, what is usually hidden even though we should be aware of it. It is not something transcendental or abstract, but something that all human beings feel and think about. The more individual the experience as a relationship with the object of art, rather than the object itself, the more it is connected to the universe. The existence of each human being is then accepted neither positively nor negatively, but critically and developmentally.

It takes one million years for light to reach the earth from a galaxy. Looking at a galaxy also means looking at the distant past. When we speak of galaxies “close” to Earth, we are referring to galaxies within 11.7 million light-years of Earth. Even the closest galaxy to Earth, the Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy, is about 25,000 light years away. When light was emitted from this galaxy, we are looking at now, mankind began to create a symbol system little by little, and now it is finally beginning to unravel. Indeed, everything is connected. Arai’s galaxy words and the various activities that emerged from them are also part of such a network of universality.


Akihiro Kubota

Professor of Art and Media Course, Department of Information Design, Tama Art University. Received the 66th Japan Media Arts Minister’s Award (Media Arts Division) for the achievements of the “ARTSAT Project”. Publications include “Design for Others” (BNN, Inc., 2017), “Principles of Media Art” (Film Art, Inc., 2018 [Co-Author/Editor]) .